April 26, 2007

self interest vs morals

Ridley and Low present some very interesting points on the aspects of self-interest and the environment/sustainability. I do think they present a realistic view. It’s nice to think that people would act on their better nature, and help preserve the environment because it’s the right thing to do. However, the practicality of this actually happening on a large scale is pretty slim. Our culture is faced paced, goal oriented, and self-involved. It’s human nature to want to better oneself. This often leaves little time for caring about the environment. I think many people do have an altruistic sense, and do care about thing outside of their own little bubble. And many people do genuinely care about the environment and sustainability. However, it’s difficult to put this altruistic sense and campassion for the environment together to produce environmentally-friendly actions. People do know about the damage they are doing to the environment, and I think many people do believe this is bad and something should be done. However, when it comes to actually doing something themselves people are less likely to show any action. It seems clear that just appealing to conscience and self-interest isn’t really working. There are individuals where this does work, and they are morally active in the sustainability movement. But I think to move environmentalism to a larger scale there does need to be incentives to go along with the conscience/morals.

April 19, 2007

Genders

While I think Terry Tempest Williams and Sandy Lopez bring up some interesting points, I think they are also missing some key points. For one, they seem to generalize and stereotype gender roles. I do think that some of their points are on key, but it’s because it is a part of our culture. Our culture subjugates us; it is an inherent part of being human. We may not even realize it, but much of our thoughts and actions occur because of culture, not at free will. I think a part of the problem can be a culture of domination. Men are expected to be dominant, strong, powerful, unemotional, etc. Men may undergo a lack of intimacy because their culture tells them to. While this can turn into men abusing women or land, I think women can also be at fault for the culture of domination. Both men and women are guilty of feeling a dominance over nature and destroying the environment.

April 11, 2007

My perfect/beautiful place

In my mind, the most beautiful and perfect place is my cabin. It is secluded from my usual surroundings. The hustle and stress is gone. My family and friends are the main people surrounding me. I’m no longer engulfed by strangers. It represents a more personal and laid back lifestyle. My favorite place is down on the dock, surrounded by water. Looking out from the dock I can see the water stream far off into the distant horizon. Loons, fish, and other wildlife occasionally peak out from under the bright blue water. The water is pristine and clear, untainted. As the warmth of the sun beats down on me I feel satisfied, calm, and content in this tranquil serenity. Trees and other foliage cascade above the sandy shores and banks of the lake. The sound of the waves crashing against the bank soothes my senses. I feel at peace. And if I simply turn my head to the side I see my family’s jet-ski, which can represent beautiful and perfect fun!

April 4, 2007

Connection to the natural world

I think human happiness and human dignity can depend on various things; it cannot just be limited to a connection with the natural world. However, I do think that a connection to the natural world is one of the things needed for happiness and dignity. Maintaining our natural world is needed foremost; without healthy nature there is no connection to obtain. I think nature provides us with a sense of place or being; it can provide a deeper meaning to our lives. Modern society puts so much emphasis on success, perfection, working, etc. It’s hard for anybody to measure up to these standards, and as a result mental health and esteem can suffer. However, the natural world does not live for perfection; it has its own way of living with survival as its main goal. I think the opposing life style of nature can offer a humbling and “happy? life style compared to modern, industrialized society. The natural world offers something our modern world does not, and we want a connection to that. Also, the natural world can strip life down to the basics. The clutter, haste, and hustle-bustle of modern society do not exist in nature. People need nature to escape this. Nature is non-judgmental, simple, and ageless. It represents the roots of humanity. Basically, I think nature offers many things that modern, industrialized society does not. The values that it offers are needed for human health and dignity.

March 29, 2007

Me and the environment

When asked to think about my personal impact on the environment, I think about my day to day action. What am I really doing and how am I affecting the environment? Honestly, I don’t really think about my actions on the environment much on a day to day basis. There is so much to do that I find it hard to find the time to think about how my actions are affecting the environment. I think the way that American culture/society works makes it hard for many people to think about their actions on the environment. Life is so busy and success-driven it’s often hard to think outside the box. Again to my behavior, I try to do little things such as recycle, I don’t litter, car pool if possible, ride the bus, turn lights off. Etc. If something is simple enough, I would go the other route to help the environment. I think most people would be willing to make small changes to their daily tasks to help the environment. However, I don’t think many people are sure on what they can all do to be more environmentally safe. As for products I consume, I’m not even sure which products would/would not be environmentally safe. I think if more information was put out there so it is more commonly know what is harmful to the environment, more changes would be possible. The web site in the blog prompt gives some interesting information, and I think if more information like this was advertised and known to the general public, people would be more susceptible to making little changes to help the environment.

March 22, 2007

How Nature Works

I most definitely believe that we must do more to respect the “principles by which nature works.? In accordance, I think we also must understand the principles by which nature works. We need to understand how the world works, on a scientific level, in order to fully be aware of what is going on, at a deeper level. This can, in turn, show us the influence that humans are having on the environment. And then we can see how our actions are affecting nature. I thought it was interesting how Rachel Carson talked about how for most of history, physical aspects of the world, wildlife, and animals have been “molded by the environment.? The opposite affect, where “life actually modifies its surroundings? is a new occurrence. Nature is a very powerful and has been sovereign throughout much of history. The only thing that has been able to overcome this and alter nature is man. However, this makes me wonder how much power and influence man actually does have. Perhaps it is only in our current minds that we have power over nature. Maybe our own ignorance is fooling us into believing we have power over nature, when in fact Mother Nature is still that sovereign being. Carson quotes Albert Schweitzer, “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.? (6) Humans often don’t even realize or think about the implications of their actions. Day to day life consumes us, and we don’t stop to think about what we are actually doing, how we are living our lives, and the effects of our actions. This correlates directly to the arguments about insecticides, DDT, etc, and how we are damaging our home: nature and the environment. Carson also says, “Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it? (10). I don’t think nature has lost any of its’ power or sovereignty; that power struggle is all in the minds of humans. Nature is a powerful and beautiful; people need to think about nature works and how we are affecting it. We must accommodate ourselves by not believing we have such a forceful power over nature. Nature is powerful in itself, and we must live together with nature, not against it.

March 8, 2007

Global Warming

I found both of the articles on global warming to be very interesting. I guess as far as my opinion I’m open-minded to the issue. It’s hard when there is so much varying information and scientific data on the topic. I do find agreement with Oreskes in that people need to be more aware of their actions and how we are affecting our environment. He has direct evidence that greenhouse gases are harming the environment. He uses the IPCC as direct evidence for his claims. He also says that the arguments against global warming are dissipating and untrue. I guess I do find it a little hard to know what to believe. Oreskes says that those that deny global warming are simply skeptics with little scientific knowledge to back up their claims. However, Lindzen also offers a large degree of scientific research to back his claims that global warming is over exaggerated. I guess I kind of think of it as a middle between these two claims. I think global warming, or at least detrimental factors on the environment are caused by humans and humans should be more aware of their actions. But at the same time, I’m hesitant to believe that such drastic events are going to appear soon in the near future.

March 1, 2007

Grizzly Man

The Grizzly Man video really intrigued me. I respect Timothy for his passion to live with and protect nature. I don’t think he was stupid or deserved to die. Maybe a bit quirky, but who isn’t… I think Timothy found his own niche and purpose, which is admirable since some people never find this. I thought it was interesting how he had previously spent his life as an alcoholic, but nature was an escape from this. He found serenity and comfort in nature. His acting like a bear was his own way of living his life deliberately, the way he wanted to live. Clearly he knew the danger he was living with, but as he said, he would rather die than kill a bear in its own environment. In addition, the videos helped raise awareness of the problems the Grizzly bears face in Alaska. Some of the Native American’s criticisms did make sense. Animals and humans live separate lives. But then again, hunters are entering the animals’ life and home, crossing the line between animals and humans. This is what Timothy wanted stop. And I guess I didn’t really see how his living with the animals could cause harm. I kind of doubt Timothy’s influence on the tameness of the animals actually caused hunters to kill more animals. The parts where the video camera was just going, in between Timothy’s talking, showed the beauty and serenity of nature. While Timothy may have been a bit wild and unusual, he lived with a passion for preserving and bringing awareness about the environment.

Here is my link about grizzly bears

February 21, 2007

Environmentalism relationships

I think environmentalism is a dynamic thing, and is influenced by many different factors. I googled environmentalism to see the definition and these are some things that came up: the activity of protecting the environment from pollution or destruction; the philosophical doctrine that environment is more important than heredity in determining intellectual growth. From these definitions it seems clear to be that environmentalism is based on beliefs or morals. However, I don’t think these beliefs or morals necessarily have to be related to religion or a specific religion. Christians, Jews, Muslims, paganisms, atheists, etc can be environmentalists. I think these basic ethical views are a major part of environmentalism. But science most definitely has a part in environmentalism too. There is a ton of scientific evidence relating to the environment and humans affect on it. This scientific evidence alerts environmentalists and clashes with their beliefs. Basic facts don’t have an affect on a person unless they have an opinion or beliefs to analyze these facts. I guess it can become complicated when opinions differ or class, but I think these core values of protecting the environment lie at the core of environmentalism. Science can provide solid evidence to go with these beliefs.

Here is my link: environmentalism

February 15, 2007

Religion/Science and Environmentalism

I think some of the problems addressed in the recent articles is that people/society generalize or stereotype too much. I think environmentalism is a certain belief or philosophy. You can’t pinpoint the source of that belief or philosophy to one thing. A variety of things influence people’s beliefs, such as religion, science, family upbringing, culture, etc. Environmentalism is a dynamic topic. Religion, science, and a variety of other things can influence it as a whole. You also cannot pinpoint environmentalism to a specific religion. People interpret their religion in different ways. An environmentalist could be a pagan, a Christian, an atheist, etc. I guess it can also depend on the individual. The religious aspect or the science aspect may influence a person more strongly than the other, but both can make an influence. I also think it’s very stereotypical to label an environmentalist as liberal, etc. One viewpoint or belief does not label a person’s whole belief system. I myself am liberal on certain issues, but conservative on some other issues too. Also, as we go on in this class I’ve noticed what an important role the belief of oneself as a part of nature or separate from nature plays. One part of the article portrays the belief that humans are a part of nature and we are indefinitely linked: "The bishops are saying there’s a link between social and natural ecology. People are a part of their environment; it’s not something separate from them…. “The bishops’ statement seems to say that Jesus is coming, but until then, humankind and the earth are inextricably linked; if one fails, so will the other.? And then another part of the article demonstrates a contrasting view: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it." Or the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus asks his followers to consider the birds of the air: "Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26). "The Bible asserts both a hierarchy with humans at the top among the earthly creatures (though not the heavenly), and the greater value of human beings than other living things." It’s also interesting how different people interpret their faith and the Bible differently. This article focuses more an a religious relationship with nature, but I think most of the things we have read demonstrate a belief on the relationship with nature.

Here is my link: environmentalism

February 8, 2007

Perceptions of Nature

There is a wide variety of perceptions of nature throughout The Ecology of Magic. The tribal culture’s perception contrasts with today’s western-societies views. In an interview with David Abram I found an interesting thing he said about perceptions: “In indigenous, tribal, or oral cultures, magic is the way of the world. There is nothing that is not in some way magic, because the fact that the world exists is already quite a wonder. That it stays existing, that it continually keeps holding itself in existence, this is the mystery of mysteries.? (http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/abram.html) Western society is filled with so much technology and science that we believe we have figured the natural world out. We know how it works and what it does for us, and that’s all that matters. However, the scientific workings of the natural world remain a mystery to the indigenous people. As a result, it seems as though they appreciate and connect with nature much more than western society. It’s almost as if they view nature as an equal, instead of just another scientific function of the world serving humans. I also thought it was interesting how the tribal people think that illness is a result of a bad relationship with nature, so to speak. People take so much away from nature. They degrade it and take it for granted, without thinking of the consequences. And to the tribal people, illness is the punishment for this. To provide a remedy or avoid this illness, one must keep a good relationship with nature. A person has to participate in a give and take relationship with nature. It’s almost as if nature is another being. It’s interesting that western society doesn’t really see any punishment for degrading nature except that it may eventually cause hardships for humans. Extra harmful UV rays cause cancer, etc. Nature is only seen as it affects humans; it’s not seen as an actual entity.

My link is about shamanism and has some interesting stories: shamanism stuff

January 31, 2007

Annie Dillard Response

Annie Dillard said, “I wake expectant, hoping to see a new thing. If I’m lucky I might be jogged awake by a strange bird call. I dress in a hurry, imagining the yard flapping with auks, or flamingos. This morning it was a wood duck, down at the creek. It flew away.? I think it’s interesting that Dillard thinks of nature and its’ beauty/mystery every morning. This is most definitely a peaceful, laid-back, and nature-loving way to live. I myself hit the alarm clock about five times and drudgingly get up in a half stupor to take a shower and go to class. My mind is nowhere near nature or the beauty that’s sitting right outside my window. I thought it was intriguing how Annie was so engrossed with nature and what a big part of life it was for her. Nature could represent a spiritual place for her. She says, “it’s a good place to live; there’s a lot to think about.? That reminds me of Thoreau. In Dillard and Thoreau’s works, it seems that nature is an escape from a hectic life and a one-track mind. Nature provides a setting where it’s easy to think and let your mind wander. I also thought it was interesting how Dillard seems to find wisdom from nature and can relate nature to her own life. She says, “I’m drawn to this spot. I come to it as to an oracle; I return to it as a man years later will seek out the battlefield where he lost a leg or an arm.? Clearly, she is heavily influenced by what nature has to offer. It was definitely interesting that she compared her spot to an oracle. I was interested in what Dillard’s religious background/beliefs were. In my link they talk about her writing that addresses religions. However, it talked of her religious views/beliefs with ambivalence. She says, "Is nature whole, like a completed thought? Is history purposeful? Is the universe of matter significant? I am sorry; I do not know."

My link talks about how many of Dillards views on religion and other aspects of life are ambivilent: THE ECOTHEOLOGY OF ANNIE DILLARD: A STUDY IN AMBIVALENCE

January 24, 2007

Walden Blog Entry 1

What would life be like without computers, internet, cell phones, movies, guitar hero, or even running water? I myself, and probably many more Americans, can’t even really imagine living secluded in the woods. Why would you want to live without the conveniences of modern life? I think Thoreau wanted escape. Escape from an unfulfilling life, escape from a life heading where he didn’t want it to go, escape from routine, escape from the constant stress and emphasis put on money, escape from American culture… Thoreau saw the woods as the excellent means to break away from this life. The American life or life in the village commonly has several specific tasks that need to be accomplished. There is a specific timeline put on our lives. Go to school, get a job, get married, retire, etc. Life isn’t even personal. Our culture or other people often construct our life and decisions. This is what Thoreau probably thought of life lived in the village. The woods offered a simple, live by the moment, natural way of life. The woods could also be a way for Thoreau to test himself and his self-reliance/individualism. He didn’t know who he was living in the village because his life was constructed for him. However, in the woods he had to rely on himself and his own decisions. Perhaps the woods were the surrounding that he needed to find out who he really is.

On a side note, I think the theme of escaping to nature doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the woods. I think some of the things Thoreau feels resentment towards are in a way, western society based. I’m taking an anthropology class and one of my books talks about an anthropologist who is researching the Ashaninka tribe. In his research, he actually lives and conforms to the lifestyle of the Ashaninka people. He says, “my research on the Ashaninka also has forced me to ask questions about my own culture. I was impressed by the contrast between the precariousness and inequality of our market-based, industrial way of life and the ability of the Ashaninka to provide for all of their material needs-food, clothing, and shelter-while maintaining a high-quality environment and high levels of social equality. In this respect, their culture seems to be more effective than our own.? (John N. Bodley, Cultural Anthropology) These such cultures live with less material wealth; however, their daily work habits of preparing food are living deliberate; they are living on the essential facts of life, like Thoreau. Some Americans are working a job they don’t care about or don’t enjoy to live with certain materials. I think Thoreau felt like this; he was working for a certain lifestyle that he didn’t need or even enjoy. I just thought it was interesting how different cultures who are living this “natural? or even “in the woods? lifestyle compare with American culture.

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