April 25, 2007

Do We Need Rewards?

After reading the article "Can Selfishness Save the Environment?" I realized that we need to have a realistic view of the situation we face today and we need to understand that it is most people will not act just for the benefit of nature. It is discouraging to think that most people do not act with the thought of the environment in the back of their minds, but it is reality. Most people strive to better themselves and their lives and most of the time this does not include striving to better the environment. Therefore, the government should create incentives to, in a sense, force people to act in ways that are not to damaging to nature.

I recently read an article in The New York Times about the new green movement. I have recently noticed the increase in discussion on how to be green- in magazines, commercials, new papers, etc. I am happy to see that there is more of a push to act with more care towards the environment. The article talked about how this surge in green power is directed towards the 95% of people who want to be 5% green, not towards the 5% of people who want to be 95% green. This holds much truth in our society today because most people don't want to hurt the environment but they also don't want to give up daily pleasures, such as driving their cars. This also leads to the idea of the tragedy of the commons- the idea that people, as individuals, don't feel that their actions have an impact on the environment; however, if 95% of people share this viewpoint, the damages add up.

The idea that people will change just for the sake of the environment and future generations is a romantic idea. Yes- there are people who do simply want to save the environment, but most people do not want to give up certain activities to accomplish this. I understand that this is just how our society is today. The article "Can Selfishness Save the Environment?" states that we should use that fact to our advantage and create incentives for people to act to better the environment. This is the realistic way of approaching the issue.

April 17, 2007

Gender and Nature

The discussion between the author and her friend was rather interesting. The author states that men only deal with the physical aspect of life, not the spiritual. She states that it has to do with their loss of intimacy. Throughout the story , the author comments on the difference between men and women and seems to have a very strong opinion on gender roles. Even though she does not make flagrant remarks on the difference, the story, to me, is about the difference between men and women, not just nature.

Throughout the story, the author shows the difference between men and women. For example, most of the men in the story seem to be demanding or not empathetic. The men that she meets in the truck show no sympathy for the loss of owls. Also, she remembers as a child camping with her family. At one point she says how the men would come back anxious for dinner. This illustrates how men demand that the women do certain tasks, such as cooking. The roles of men and women are extremely different. I think that this is why she feels the men only know the physical aspects of life. I feel that the stereotypes of men forces them to act a certain way. It is not as acceptable for a man to show emotion as it is for a woman. Men are supposed to be in control and the ones to protect their family. This does not allow them to be emotional. The author seems to disregard this fact completely. To me, it seems that she is angry with men for "their loss of intimacy" in life. What she does not realize is that it is culture that makes men lose intimacy.

The conversation between the author and her friend glosses over many of the facts that surround the controversy of gender roles. I feel that the way the author portrays men in her story is one sided. The overall story illustrates the connection between women and nature and how the treatment of both have parallels. Men mistreat women just as they mistreat nature. In the story, the men are the ones destroying owls homes and shooting tulips with BB guns, but this cannot be said for all men.

April 13, 2007

The Most Beautiful Place

I love standing on the grassy hill overlooking the lake, it seems to go on forever. The winding path takes me down to the modest shore. The whole place is calm and peaceful. This park is the most beautiful place to me; although, from the surface, it seems to be nothing special. The trees decorating the park seem to protect the grassy area and the circling path. This park is near my house, so I find it comforting. It is like a mini escape. It represents the connection to nature and family and friends. It brings people together. It is a place to play frisbee, watch the 4th of July fireworks and simply enjoy a little nature. It holds a simple beauty. Running along the hill overlooking Lake Michigan and seeing the sunrise is one of the most inspiring moments. The green grass is always welcoming and the vast lake is always soothing.

April 5, 2007

For Future Generations

After reading Olson's speech, I realized that preserving nature is important, not only for people today but also for future generations. Nature really help people reconnect with themselves. It is a place to slow down and take a break from busy life. Olson discusses why we have the responsibility to help preserve nature. He states that human dignity is lost when nature is lost. I agree with this strong remark because I understand the power of nature. Nature is connects the world. Olson speaks of how powerful humans connection with nature can be; however, future generations may not be able to experience this connection. With technology and urbanization, nature is slowly being destroyed. It is our responsibility to preserve nature so that future generations can enjoy its power and beauty.

Another person who understands the power of nature is Aldo Leopold. In his writings, he illustrates how interconnected nature is. The deer, the wolves, and the hunter all play a role in how nature functions. I feel that he shows how important it is to help preserve the environment. Humans put stress on the environment and this in turn disrupts natures flow. Leopold describes the death of a wolf and how the green fire within it's eyes fades away. He understands how influencial the death of one living creature is in nature. I think that people today should look at seemingly insignificant occurances in nature as something powerful. This would help people to connect with nature.

Olson and Leopold both show how important it is to preserve nature. It allows for future generations to connect with the environment. If people stop having the mentality that one person's actions will not make a difference, then maybe nature has a fighting chance. Everyone has the responsibility to help maintain the little nature still left. Future generations deserve to be able to enjoy nature, just as we do.

March 29, 2007

My Impact

From time to time I do think about how I personally impact the environment, but not as often as I should. I understand that I do have an impact, because everyone's actions have an impact. Today, people have the attitude that what they do have no effect or consequence but since many people think that way, people do not act wisely when it comes to polluting the earth. At school, I do not have a car so I do not drive as much as I do when I am home. Here, I am forced to walk everwhere, which is a good thing. Altough, when I am at home, I admit that I do drive places that I could easily walk to. I believe that after being at school, once I go home, I will realize that I do not have to drive everywhere. Even though there are certain activities that are not good for the environment, overall, I do try to act wisely when it comes to other things. For example, I try to recycle as much as possible and at home, I made my family buy reusable grocery bags. I am willing to do my best to lessen my impact on the environment, especially since even the small things can make a big difference. I believe that if more people tried to at least consume less, turn off the lights, walk more, and use reusable products, humans could make less of an impact on the environment. Our ecological footprint on this earth could be much smaller if everyone was just more aware of how certain actions affect the environment.

March 22, 2007

Respect

I think that we do need to respect the way nature works. Currently, humans are not aware of the damage they cause. Even little daily acts add up and can harm the environment. For example, mindlessly throwing a piece of trash on the ground rather than taking the extra few steps to the garbage can. The idea of ignorance with regards to our effect on nature is the main topic in Carson's Silent Spring. In her writings she discusses the implications of using pesticides and other chemicals.

Carson talks about what happens when chemicals enter the environment. She uses specific examples such as chemical fertilizers sprayed on croplands that enter soil and water. This contamination threatens not only wildlife but plants and humans. This is just one example of how humans do not understand how using such chemicals damages environment. People do need to, first, become aware of the little acts that hurt nature and second, learn how to change their ways to better respect nature. Nature is a strong force that should not be tampered with. Many do not understand that we rely on nature for so much, such as food and shelter. If people mess with this force, there may be many consequences that ensue.

Carson quotes Albert Schweitzer in her writing, which really summarizes how humans do not respect nature. He states that "Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation". This illustrates that people produce chemicals and mindlessly put it into the environment. This hurts the environment in many ways. People do need to respect the way nature works since it is our greatest resource.

March 8, 2007

Global Warming- A Real Issue

Even after reading the two opposing articles on global warming, my overall view of the issue has changed. For a long time I have been aware of the problems involving the depleting ozone. I also understand that no matter what people say is "hype", it is a real issue today. The article by Lindzen points out that global warming and an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide are inevitable. The other article by Oreskes takes the opposite view and states that global warming is a problem and there is scientific evidence to support it.
Lindzen's article uses much more evidence to back up the overall claim. He is a scientist and professor at MIT, so, yes, he does have knowledge in this area. He explains global warming and how and why it happens. The main cause of the warming of the earth is not due to human activities, according to Lindzen. Also, he states that the earth has not warmed a significant amount over the past years, therefore, it will not be difficult to adjust to the small rise in temperature.
Oreske's article is not as informative as Lindzen's since there is little scientific evidence in the article. It is not as convincing as the other article due to the lack of evidence. Oreske's article talks about how global warming needs to be taken seriously since there is science that supports the theory. The article uses other examples from outside sources to support the claim; however, the arguement is not very strong.
Even though Lindzen's article does use much more evidence and seems more convincing, I still think that human activity does affect the climate. We speed up the inevitable warming of the earth due to our carbon output from vehicles. My view of global warming did not change after reading Lindzen's article. There is a problem with the warming climate, whether or not the scientists and professors disagree.

March 1, 2007

Grizzly Man

This was my second time watching the Grizzly Man video and my view of Timothy has changed. After my first time watching this film, I thought he was too extreme by going and living with the bears. It is obviously a very dangerous thing to do and I was not sure what his main purpose for doing that was. However, after seeing it for the second time, I realized that all Timothy wanted to do was have a connection to nature and the bears.

For 13 years Timothy lived with the grizzly bears of Alaska. His passion for nature and bears turned into his life. The main goal for him was to protect the wildlife and show people that there is no need to kill these animals. He felt that they were simply misunderstood and truly not dangerous creatures. Even though he was killed by a grizzly, Timothy showed the public that, for the most part, these bears did not cause harm. Throughout the years, he developed a certain connection to the grizzly bears he lived with. This connection is something that many people will never feel in their lives. It came from his patience with the animals. Additionally, Timothy turned to nature for an escape and therapy. For years he was an alcoholic and turning to nature helped him to take control of his life. Timothy is an example of the spiritual connection people can have with nature. He has a strong connection to nature, just like people have with their religion. It gave him hope and a purpose in life.

Timothy devoted his life to the protection of the grizzly bears. He clearly demonstrated a love of nature that most people do not, or will never understand. Nature was a type of religion for Timothy since it gave him faith and hope.

February 22, 2007

A Gospel According to the Earth

I liked the way this piece was written simply because the author, Jack Hitt, used a lot of evidence and examples to back up his claim that environmentalism and religion parallel. He talks about how environmentalism is closely related to religion and that there may be some benefits of viewing it as a religion.
I agree with Hitt in some aspects. I think that viewing it as a type of religion is good seeing as it makes people more passionate about the environment. Just as people strongly believe in a certain religion, they can strongly believe in environmentalism. Hitt uses examples from the Bible to draw a parallel between the two concepts. For example, he talks about a Christian woman who was condemned to death for being a Christian. She ended up killing herself for her religion. Environmentalists are also martyr's. For example, people who climb trees in the redwood forest and in Oregon that are designated for logging. Some people die for their belief that the forests need to be protected. This is just one similarity between the two. Hitt believes that there may be some good that comes out of viewing environmentalism as religion. Some disagree with him because some believe environmentalism is based on propaganda and not fact, but Hitt knows that this is not true. There may be some extremes in environmentalism and in religion, but having environmentalism be a type of religion may make people become more determined to help with the movement.
Hitt draws these parallels throughout his writing, using specific examples strengthens his overall ideas. Even though there are people on the opposition, Hitt makes a very compelling arguement for environmentalism as a religion.

February 20, 2007

EPA

Here is the Environmental Protection Agency. The author talked about the EPA in his speech "Environmentalism as Religion".

February 15, 2007

Environmentalism the Antithesis of Religion?

Many people feel that one cannot be a devout Christain (or any religion) and also be an environmentalist, but maybe it is possible. The idea of environmentalism goes beyond the idea of conservation and preservation. It also deals with the relationship between humans and the environment. Could this not be seen as a religious idea in itself? The connection between humans and their surroundings is in part, religions are based on this concept. How people feel a connection to a higher power is what most religions worship. An unseen power that protects and nurtures. The environment is a higher power in this sense since it also protects and nurtures.
In the article "A Fist In the Eye of God", the author talks about the issue of religion and environmentalism relating to one another. She discusses how today there are more and more problems with the genetic manipulation of nature. Pesticides kill some species, but not always the targeted pests. Some insects actually develop a genetic resistance to pesticides. In the article, the idea that manipulating wildlife is like "a fist in the eye of God". If God created the world, that means he created nature. People should not try to control nature because humans do not own nature, instead humans should look after nature. People should see it as a mutual relationship. Nature helps us and humans should help nature. There are other ways that environmentalism and religion can go hand in hand, but the overall idea of environmentalism and religion share many similarities.
Today there exists a stereotype of religious people- that they are highly conservative and do not care about such ideas as environmentalism. On the other hand, people also have stereotypes of those who do care for our environment- that they are too liberal and radical. However, people should try to stop having these stereotypes and then maybe the environmental movement could become even stronger.

February 9, 2007

Couturier

Here is a website on Lisa Couturier. It talks about how she is similar to Annie Dillard.

February 7, 2007

Natural New York City

I really enjoyed the essay by Lisa Couturier because she persuaded me to believe that New York City is indeed natural. She used satire to show that, in part, there is humor in the fact that the city is one big wilderness. The essay gives proof of why she feels New York has the same natural qualities as any wilderness.

Throughout her writing, the author uses her personal experiences to illustrate how she came to see the city as a wilderness. In college her professor comments on why New York City is natural. He states that "New York is no different from a community of ants". I agree with this because people are just like ants; living at a fast pace and toward one goal- survival. I can see how the buildings are akin to anthills. This is an interesting and realistic way of looking at any city. It can be seen as natural, just like any wilderness.

Moreover, the author does connect with her surroundings. She takes the time to examine the world and notices the minute details. For example, she notices the the mice on the subway tracks. Few people would take the time to notice these small creatures, but the author finds them fascinating. This relates to Thoreau's arguement to become united with nature, no matter where you live. The author lives a large city, but she is still connected to her surrounding world. She does not live with such haste as other city dwellers do. She is a clear example of how people can live deliberately, despite residing in civilization.

Anyone has the ability to become more connected with their surroundings. It does not matter if they live in a bustling city or in the backwoods. I believe the author can be compared to Thoreau seeing as she too takes the time to notice her surroundings and lives with little haste.

February 5, 2007

More on Annie Dillard

Here is Annie Dillard's official website. It has some interesting information about her.

January 31, 2007

Dillard's Connection with Nature

Annie Dillard is as close to nature as anyone could be. She is in tune with the cycle nature goes through. Life and death are curious matters to her and she makes that evident throughout her writing. This is a message she wishes to convey to the reader- that humans have the responsibility to explore nature and all its wonders.
All throughout her writing, Heaven and Earth in Jest, she describes her encounters with nature. At the beginning she talks about walking across a valley to a river. The detailed account shows the reader how in tune she is with her surroundings. Moreover, Dillard appreciates nature for more than its beauty. She appreciates the duality of nature, that is can both create and destroy. For example, she talks about seeing a frog die. The amphibian is killed by a giant water bug that basically sucks the life out of their prey. This image is very strong in her writing since it is so graphic and detailed. Dillard is at once both fascinated and horrified by this sight. Many would only take it for what it is, the death of an animal; although, Dillard is mesmerized by it. She often returns to the spot in which she saw the life sucked out of the frog. On one hand she sees this as a magical happening in nature and on the other hand she does not take it too seriously. Dillard realizes that this is a natural occurrence. Many would be disgusted by this, but not Dillard. This is where the title of her writing originates from, Heaven and Earth in Jest. It clearly explains what Dillard sees in nature. It is not to be taken too seriously. I agree with her view point because nature and life should not be taken too seriously. We should be unified with nature, just as Dillard was. Such natural occurrences, such as predator-prey relationships, should be looked at as life, not as a disturbing sight. We should follow Dillard’s example and explore nature.